Past Letters

Fall 2020

Dear Members of the Archival History Section,

I am honored to serve as the chair of our section for the year 2020-21. I first wish to thank last year’s chair Cory Nimer for steering us through a year that has been like no other. Thanks as well to last year’s steering committee members Michelle Ganz, Susan Tucker and Ingi House for all their hard work for our section. I am very much looking forward to continuing this important work with the members of the new steering committee. I would also like to thank Eric Stoykovich and Natalie Worsham for their excellent editorial work for the Archival History News. Since its launch in 2017, the Archival History News has established itself as a valued information hub on national and international archival history.

Looking back at this year’s annual meeting I would like to highlight the presentations of our two guest speakers, which, in a year of multiple crises, focused on archival responses to crisis and tragedy. Peter Alter (Chief Historian at the Chicago History Museum and Director of the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History) in his presentation titled  “Documenting Crisis” explored the ways in which the Chicago History Museum has documented and continues to document the city’s most calamitous and dramatic events,  reaching from the late 20th and early 21st century all the way back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In the meeting’s second lecture, titled “We Remember Them: Archival Tragedy Response,” Vanessa St. Oegger-Menn (Assistant University Archivist and Pan Am 103 Archivist at Syracuse University) reflected first about the mission and work of Syracuse University’s Pan Am Flight 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives, dedicated to the documentation of this terrorist attack and to the memory of its victims. Vanessa concluded her presentation with a highly informative overview of the work of SAA’s Tragedy Response Initiative Task Force (2018-2020), of which she was a member. During these presentations we were able to record a peak attendance of 68, a testament as much to the timeliness of this year’s section meeting theme as to a general interest in archival history.

The meeting also featured the announcement of the recipients of the 2020 Archival History Article Awards, which were given to Melanie Shell-Weiss for her article “Good Intentions: Grappling with Legacies of Conflict and Distrust Surrounding a Native American Oral History Project One Generation Later” (Oral History Review 46, no. 1 (2019): 104-133) and to Greg Weideman for “The Historical Hazards of Finding Aids” (American Archivist 82, no. 2 (2019): 381-420). Congratulations to both recipients!

In its first meeting in late September, the steering committee outlined its plans for the coming year. A new article award committee was formed, and the steering committee agreed to focus on the next stage of the Archival History News’ bibliography project as well as on the institutional histories project (an attempt to survey and document existing histories of archival repositories).

The Archival History News has become our section’s indispensable source of information for section proceedings as much as for archival history in general. I would like to encourage all of our section members to consider submitting contributions to AHN, from book reviews and project descriptions to conference coverage and article length original research.

Sebastian Modrow
Chair, Archival History Section

Fall 2019


It is a privilege to serve you as chair of the Archival History Section, and to work with steering committee members and editorial staff so devoted to the work of promoting the history of archives and archival institutions. As a university archivist, my focus is largely on institutional history. This has been reflected in my research and writing, which has explored the impact of library and archives programs (and individual archivists) on our researchers and patrons. Some examples of this work include:

  • “The Old Guard and Rearguard Actions: Professionalization and the Church Historian’s Office,” Journal of Mormon History 45, no. 1 (2019)
  • “The Church Library Coordinating Committee and the Correlation of Meetinghouse Libraries,” BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 3 (2017)
  • “The Development and Professionalization of the Utah State Archives, 1897-1968,” Journal of Western Archives (2012), (with Gordon Daines)

It is perhaps for this reason that I am so excited about the section’s current work to expand access to the institutional histories of archival programs. The Crowdsourced Special Collections and/or University Archives Histories’ Web Review project, spearheaded by Eric Stoykovich. Work on this project is continuing, and I would encourage section members to join in where possible.

Looking back at last year, I would like to thank Alex Poole and the rest of the section leadership for their work. The section meeting at SAA’s conference in Austin featured Stephen Mielke from the Harry Ransom Center, who provided a wonderful discussion of that institution’s history. We were also able to recognize Heather Wolfe and Peter Stallybrass, the winners of the second annual Archival History Award. Their article, “The Material Culture of Record-Keeping in Early Modern England,” is an excellent example of the scholarship being done on archives, and I look forward to seeing what work will be published this coming year.

As we move forward into 2020, I hope that you will remain engaged with the section and contribute where you can. Archival History News will provide updates on the section’s plans, and we encourage you to consider submitting to the site about your projects and research as well.  I look forward to collaborating with you this year in promoting archival history.


Cory Nimer
Chair, Archival History Section

Spring 2019

Dear Colleagues,

A happy and healthy spring and summer to all! I would like to express my sincere appreciation to AHN co-editors Eric Stoykovich and Nathan Saunders, to former intern, Rebecca Leung, to our indispensable current AHS intern, Natalie Worsham, and to the AHS Steering Committee members.

First, we have launched the AHS Steering Committee elections; please consider nominating a colleague—or yourself!

Second, we are looking forward to our annual meeting, which will be held Saturday, August 3, from 1:45 to 3:00 p.m. We are particularly excited to have as our speaker, Mr. Steve Mielke, Archivist and Librarian at the Ransom Center. At the meeting, we will present the second annual Archival History Article Award, which rewards an article of excellence in the field of archival history published in the preceding year. The meeting’s full agenda and further details will be provided in Archival History News.

Third, it has been a good year for scholarship in archival history. My predecessor as chair, Kelly A. Kolar, recently published “Bourgeois Specialists and Red Professionals in 1920s Soviet Archival Development” in Information & Culture: A Journal of History 53, nos. 3/4. My article, “’Be Damned Pushy at Times’: The Committee on the Status for Women and Feminism in the Archival Profession, 1972-1998,” printed in The American Archivist 81, no. 2 received the 2019 Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research from the American Library Association. Apropos of publication, please consider submitting to Archival History News: let us know how you are or your institution is exploring our field’s rich history.

I look forward to seeing you all in Austin!

Alex H. Poole
Chair, Archival History Section

Fall 2018

Poole photo 2 - croppedGreetings Archival History Section Members!

We are delighted to continue the relaunch of Archival History News under co-editors Drs. Eric Stoykovich (University of Maryland-College Park) and Nathan Saunders (University of North Carolina-Wilmington), assisted by our intern, Natalie Worsham (Louisiana State University).

I am honored to assume the Archival History Section chair from Kelly A. Kolar, whose superb leadership last year merits much praise. I am entering my fourth year as a tenue-track Assistant Professor at Drexel University and have a longstanding interest in the history of our field. My work in the area includes:

  • “‘Be Damned Pushy at Times’: The Committee on the Status for Women and Feminism in the Archival Profession, 1972-1998.,” American Archivist 81, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2018). (Upcoming)
  • “Harold T. Pinkett and the Lonely Crusade of African American Archivists in the Twentieth Century.” American Archivist 80, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2017): 296-335.
  • “The Strange Career of Jim Crow Archives: Race, Space, and History in the Mid-Twentieth-Century American South.” American Archivist 77, no. 1 (Spring/Summer, 2014): 23-63.

Sincere thanks to all those who attended our section meeting at SAA this past August. We had a large and attentive crowd, illuminating presentations by Ciaran Trace and Alex H. Poole, and a robust conversation thereafter. We also presented the first Archival History Award, which recognizes an excellent article in the field of archival history published in the preceding year, to Patricia Grimsted for “Pan-European Displaced Archives in the Russian Federation: Still Prisoners of War on the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day.” Please be sure to nominate any deserving articles you come across that are published this year!

Last, please consider publishing in Archival History News. Our co-editors are happy to discuss possible topics and types of contributions.

Alex H. Poole
Chair, Archival History Section

Spring 2018

Greetings Archival History Section Members!

Welcome to our Spring 2018 issue. It has been a real pleasure to see the successful re-launch of Archival History News under co-editors Eric Stoykovich and Adam Mosseri, and our intern, Rebecca Leung. In order to pursue other opportunities, Adam stepped down as AHN co-editor in December. The AHS Steering Committee thanks him for his service and wishes him well in his future endeavors. Eric and Rebecca continue to provide us with quality content as we undergo a search for co-editors for the next year. We hope to have an announcement on the 2018-19 editors soon.

Although it is only May, the Archival History Section Steering Committee is preparing for our annual section meeting at SAA 2018, to be held Thursday, August 16 from 4:15-5:30 pm. Steering Committee members Alex Poole and Ciaran Trace will present on their experience researching and publishing in archival history. As a jumping off point they will discuss their recent American Archivist articles on Harold T. Pinkett, the first African American archivist employed by the National Archives, and the Georgia State Archives in the Progressive Era.[1] Keep an eye on Archival History News for a complete meeting agenda and more details about the Section Meeting.

As part of our ongoing efforts to promote the study of archival history, AHS has launched the Archival History Article Award. This annual prize rewards an article of superior excellence in the field of archival history published in the preceding year. The nomination period just closed and now the Award Selection Committee, (Ashley Stevens, Ciaran Trace, and I) have the pleasurable task of reading some of the best recent work on archival history. We will present the inaugural award and prize at our section meeting in DC this August.

Finally, I encourage you all to keep Archival History News in mind when considering a place to share your work on archival history. AHN offers a unique space that is not represented in traditional academic journals. Let us know what you are or your institution is doing to investigate the history of our field!

I look forward to seeing you all in DC.

Kelly A. Kolar

Chair, Archival History Section

[1] Alex H. Poole, “Harold T. Pinkett and the Lonely Crusade of African American Archivists in the Twentieth Century,” American Archivist 80, no. 2 (Fall–Winter 2017): 296-335; Ciaran B. Trace, “Sweeping out the Capitol: The State Archives and the Politics of Administration in Georgia, 1921–1923,” American Archivist 80, no. 2 (Fall–Winter 2017): 373-406.

Fall 2017

Greetings Archival History Section Members!

I am proud to serve as your Chair this upcoming year and to be a part of the relaunch of Archival History News! I have served on the AHS Steering Committee for the past two years and I am excited to continue, and build upon, the excellent work done by my Steering Committee colleagues and former Chairs. Our outgoing Chair, Eric Stoykovich, set the bar high and we are lucky to have his continued contribution as a co-editor of Archival History News. I am also grateful to our outgoing members Jenny Mitchell and Tamar Zeffren for their work over the last year. I am happy to welcome (and re-welcome) our new and returning Steering Committee: Vice Chair/Chair-Elect Alex Poole and members Ciaran Trace, Ashley Stevens, and Adam Mosseri, who also serves as a co-editor of Archival History News. You can read more about our new steering committee under “Archival History Section Resources.” Finally, AHS is excited to have our first intern, Rebecca Leung, who works on our newsletter.

In preparation for my role as Chair, I attended the Leadership Forum at SAA 2017 in Portland this past July. As we discussed how the various sections and committees of SAA can help promote and further SAA’s strategic goals, I was struck by how well suited AHS is to serve in this capacity. The relaunch of Archival History News is an excellent example of how AHS’s work fulfills some of SAA’s goals: This new publication will help “foster and disseminate research in and about the field,” as well as “deliver information and education via methods that are accessible, affordable, and keep[ing] pace with technological change.”[1] AHS is also uniquely suited to support SAA’s Goal 1: Advocating for Archives and Archivists. By deepening our knowledge of our profession’s history, Archival History News empowers archivists to educate those around them about the importance of archives and the value of memory institutions to democratic societies. As I write this letter, American society is engaged in a nationwide discussion about memory, identity, and history—concepts central to our profession and its history. As scholars of archival history, we have a unique opportunity to add to this national dialogue and educate individuals about the importance of archives, what we do, and why it matters. Archives have rich histories and I encourage you to contribute your historical research to our newsletter.

This year the AHS Steering Committee will continue to focus on advocating and promoting archival history through Archival History News and several other developing projects, including an annual award for the best archival history article, promoting archival history in graduate education, and continuing work on our archival history bibliographies. I look forward to updating you on our work in the coming year. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to serve as your Chair.

Kelly A. Kolar
Chair, Archival History Section

[1] Society of American Archivists Strategic Plan 2014 – 2018 SAA Strategic Plan, 2014-2018

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